As so few major new albums were released last week, there wasn't much competition for the No. 1 slot on the Billboard 200. In turn, Zac Brown Band's "Uncaged" returns to the top for a second week, rising 2-1 with 48,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan (down 38%).
That's the lowest sales week for a No. 1 set since the Feb. 19, 2011, chart. That week, Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday" climbed to No. 1 with 45,000. Since then, thanks to a constant stream of big new albums - and Adele's enduring "21" with its many high-selling weeks at No. 1 - we haven't had to fret about a low, low No. 1 seller until now. (Well, low as in below 50,000.)
However, things should perk up next week, when Rick Ross' new "God Forgives, I Don't" will make a splash on the tally with more than 200,000 (so say label forecasters). That should secure him his best sales week yet, surpassing his current best frame, when Trilla entered at No. 1 with 198,000.
After Ross, there are some big guns waiting to fire throughout August, including 2 Chainz' debut studio set, Wiz Khalifa's "O.N.I.F.C." and the "Now 43" compilation. Yet, most superstar releases are being held until September, including new efforts from P!nk, Mumford & Sons, No Doubt and Dave Matthews Band. (And Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music compilation, plus the latest releases from Matchbox Twenty, Bob Dylan, Muse, the Killers and Green Day.) Seriously people, it's Christmas in September. Couldn't have a couple of these sets been pushed forward to late July or August? The top of the chart desperately needs some A-lister love. It's always confounding how we can go for weeks with so few big titles and then, all of a sudden, whamo! An entire Grammy Awards' broadcast's worth of talent drops out of the sky and onto the Billboard 200 at the same time.
Gaslight fires up: Coming in at No. 3 this week is the chart's highest debut, the Gaslight Anthem's "Handwritten," with 40,000. It's easily the best sales week for the act, which had previously lodged its highest frame when 2010's "American Slang" debuted at No. 16 with 27,000. (That album also marked the band's previous chart peak.)
The second and final top 10 bow this week comes from Passion Pit's "Gossamer," entering at No. 4 with a career-best 37,000. That's a slightly larger figure than some industry prognosticators had expected. Those in the know initially thought it was going to launch with around 30,000. "Gossamer" was a monster in terms of downloads, as a full 74% of its first-week sales were digital copies. (Comparatively, Gaslight Anthem's first-week digital share was 52%).
We can work it out: Now that the Beatles and the Apple iTunes Store are the best of friends, the fruits of their collaboration are becoming increasingly visible. The latest example of their teamwork is the new iTunes-exclusive compilation "Tomorrow Never Knows," which was released July 31 and bows at No. 24 with 14,000 sold. The set collects 14 classic rock songs by the band and marks the first time the Beatles have released an album exclusively through iTunes that had never been previously issued. (EMI says that it will not be released physically and will remain exclusive to iTunes.)
The album arrived unannounced, which shouldn't be shocking to anyone, as nearly everything Beatles/iTunes-related is kept under wraps until the very last minute.
There's no word on if this will be the first in a series of themed iTunes-exclusive Beatles compilations. But that doesn't seem like a crazy idea. Maybe Apple Corps. was reminded of how well the band's 1976 compilation "Rock 'N' Roll Music" performed and thought, "Why not release one for the digital generation?" The RIAA platinum-certified set peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in 1976 and spent 30 weeks on the chart. It was later split into two individual volumes, which charted on Top Pop Catalog Albums in the 1980s and earned platinum awards.
Olympic might: The Olympics make their mark on the charts this week, even though the games only got underway in full on Friday, July 27. The soundtrack to the opening ceremony, titled "Isles of Wonder," debuts at No. 136 on the Billboard 200 with 3,000 digital-only copies. The physical version of the 36-track set won't street until Aug. 28, more than two weeks after the games end Aug. 12.
On Classical Digital Songs (see page 47), a number of Olympics-related tracks make waves. At No. 4, John Williams' "Bugler's Dream and Olympic Fanfare Melody" rises 15 slots with a 288% gain in downloads, while two different versions of "Chariots of Fire" (which was featured in the opening ceremony) appear at Nos. 5 and 6.